Jaguars’ man-up promise to coach has proven successful

Photo by: Digital First Media

By Matt Smith

The five seniors that would comprise Garnet Valley’s starting lineup for the duration of the 2018-19 season made their coach a deal in November.

Coach Joe Woods’ veterans decided to put the onus on themselves. They believed they possessed talent, tenacity and the make-up, both physically and mentally, to take the program to new heights. By coming to Woods with a simple idea, the Jaguars set the bar for their season and legacy.

Let us play man-to-man defense, they told Woods, and you will not regret it. They did it all season, in every game, regardless of opponent. For years the Jaguars have played mostly zone defenses, or as Woods said recently, “it’s rare to have five players on the court who could play man the whole time,” and be very good at it.

Woods has never had a team like this, one in which he can set it and forget it. He has an unspeakable bond with his senior starters — guards Morgan Falcone and Jill Nagy, forwards Brianne Borcky, Emily McAteer and Madi McKee, all of whom have made good on their promise.

They challenged themselves in the fall, before the journey to a third Central League title in four years, and the program’s first District 1 championship. Now they are determined to leave together with a PIAA Class 6A championship Friday night in Hershey.

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This weekend’s PIAA basketball championships feature eight area teams going for the gold

By Jaiden Campana and Corey Sharp

The final weekend of the PIAA basketball season is here, and eight local teams have the opportunity to finish their season with a victory and a state championship.

Here is a look at the seven games — two locals play each other — scheduled for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. All games will be at the Giant Center in Hershey.

Thursday, Class 4A boys: Bonner-Prendergast vs. Imhotep, 8 p.m.

Familiar faces meet again in this game as the teams repeat their District 12 championship game.

A missed desperation halfcourt heave by Imhotep at the end of overtime was all that separated the teams in the first meeting. Since then, the Imhotep Panthers have rolled through the playoffs, beating teams by an average of 21 points even without 6-foot-7 Maryland recruit Donta Scott in the semifinals against Hickory. Now, Scott is back and can end his high school career with a third consecutive state title.

Bonner-Prendergast’s Isaiah Wong, a Miami recruit, notched a double-double against Imhotep in the District 12 final, scoring 17 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He’s been contributing on both ends of the court throughout the state playoffs. Against Nanticoke in the second round, he had 11 points and nine boards. In the semifinal win against Lower Moreland, Wong had 10 points and eight rebounds, along with two blocks.

(click on this link for the story on all PIAA final contests this weekend)


Bonner & Prendergast playing for more than a state title

Tariq Ingraham puts up a shot in the second quarter against Archbishop Carroll Friday. Ingraham scored 13 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in a 61-44 Bonner & Prendergast win. (Pete Bannan/Digital First Media)

By Matthew DeGeorge

Reaching a state final is a momentous achievement for any basketball program.

When your team represents a school that won four games just five years ago, that had never before last season made the PIAA tournament much less a final, that within the last decade has had its very existence threatened by closure … it means a whole lot more.

That’s the position that Bonner & Prendergast is in this week. In addition to the trappings of being a District 12 champion and representing the power of the Catholic League in Thursday’s all-Philly PIAA Class 4A final against Imhotep Charter, the Friars are playing for something bigger. It’s larger and more poignant even than the rebuilding process that’s unfolded for the last five years, first under alumnus Jack Concannon and now in the first season under his former assistant, Kevin Funston.

“Jack established that culture, and I’ve been trying to build upon it with the same coaches that have been here these last five years,” Funston said this week. “It’s to remember the guys that have been here before you. Everything that we do, we try not to take it for granted. It’s bigger than just these games here. You’re playing for your Bonner family and for the Bonner community. Especially after (Monday’s) game and them seeing how many people came out to support us and over the last 24 hours, how many people are reaching out and congratulating us and wishing us good luck.”

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Girl’s – Defense, clutch free throws lift Archbishop Carroll to state final

Archbishop Carroll’s Harlem Jennings puts up a shot against Southern Lehigh in the second half Tuesday night at Souderton. (PETE BANNAN/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

By Matt Smith

Mary DeSimone’s hot hand from 3-point land in the PIAA Class 5A quarterfinal round helped Archbishop Carroll advance to the final four for a second year in a row.

The senior guard didn’t have many opportunities to shoot the ball Tuesday, but didn’t disappoint when she held Carroll’s state fate in her hands.

DeSimone stood at the foul line in overtime and made both attempts to give Carroll the lead for good against District 11 champion Southern Lehigh. The Patriots then went 9-for-10 at the charity stripe in the extra session en route to a 39-32 victory.

Carroll will thus play District 7 champion Chartiers Valley Saturday in the Class 5A championship game at the Giant Center in Hershey. Carroll is vying for its third PIAA title.

DeSimone was ready for the pressure-packed moment.

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Girl’s – Cold fourth quarter dooms Bonner & Prendergast

Bonner & Prendergast senior guard Maeve McCann scored 15 points in the Pandas’ 64-50 loss to Bethlehem Catholic in the PIAA Class 4A semifinal round Tuesday. Photo by: Digital First Media

By Bob Grotz

Bonner & Prendergast was right where it needed to be entering the final frame of its PIAA Class 4A girls semifinal with Bethlehem Catholic Tuesday at Souderton High.

One quarter separated the Pandas from what could be a first trip to the state championship game, the contest knotted at 35.

The Pandas grabbed just their third lead since the first quarter on a free throw from Maeve McCann in the first minute.

But in the time it takes to say, step-back jumper, junior point guard Jaleesa Lanier deposited the first of four fourth-quarter buckets, including one of her four three-pointers, to kickstart a 12-2 run that proved fatal to the Pandas, who exited on the wrong side of 64-50.

It was the second straight season Tom Stewart and the Pandas (20-10) hit the green only to miss the birdie putt. They just didn’t have an answer for Lanier, who finished with 26 points.

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Ingraham fuels Bonner & Prendergast as it rolls toward state title final

Bonner & Prendergast’s Malik Edwards hits a 3-point shot in the first quarter of the PIAA Class 4A semifinal against Lower Moreland at Plymouth-Whitemarsh Monday evening. (PETE BANNAN/MEDIANEWS GROUP)

By Terry Toohey

Bonner & Prendergast’s talented cast went into the locker room at halftime of a PIAA Class 4A state semifinal with Lower Moreland up eight points and not exactly happy about it.

The District 1 champion Lions definitely had the Friars out of their comfort zone, so the Bonner & Prendie players had a little chat.

“We were talking about how this could be our last 16 minutes ever,” senior guard Mike Perretta said. “We just woke up and jumped on them from the start.”

The District 12 champions put together a third quarter for the ages to roll over the Lions, 83-47, and advance to their first state championship game in program history.

The Friars (22-5) tallied 31 points in the period, one more than they had in the first half, to take a 61-31 lead into the fourth quarter. As scrappy as the Lions (28-3) were, the 30-point deficit was too much for Lower Moreland to realize its dream of going to the state final for the first time.

The win extended Bonner & Prendie’s winning streak to five games, the last four have been by an average of 26.25 points.

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